Hometown: Chicago, IL
Active Since: 2012
Twitter Handle: @ZMoneyWorld
Essential Listening: Rich B4 Rap
Pros: Incredibly catchy hooks, a strong personality, and funny lyrics.
Cons: It's pretty unclear exactly how industry-friendly he is at this point.
In 2012, ZMoney had a YouTube presence, and that was about it. Even then, only connoisseurs of West Side Chicago street rap were really familiar with the teenaged MC. Going into the new year, he received a couple of high-profile cosigns: Cinematographer DGainz (who shot Chief Keef's "I Don't Like" vid, among others) shot a new video for his buzzing single "Want My Money." And Chance the Rapper, in the run-up to Acid Rap, dropped a trailer for his new tape that was soundtracked by the same song. Hip-hop fans in Chicago were anticipating the rapper's new material, and when a pair of tapes dropped on the same day toward the end of June, it seemed ZMoney had delivered on his promise—and then some.
The rapper has mystique; he hasn't been interviewed, and a mysterious band-aid on his forehead (Fashion accoutrement? Pimple? Third eye?) kept people guessing. His verses are defiantly mush-mouthed. He reflects the sounds of Gucci Mane (especially on "Regular,") Chief Keef, and fellow West Side artists like M.I.C. (on "Yo Bitch Callin"), but easily adapts them to his own singular personality. His verses are often packed with low-brow humor. On "Regular" he claims to be pumping 93 octane gas while his rhetorical target pumps—yep—regular. On "Get Off My Dick," he drawls: "No disrespect but I'ma rob you." But the humor is easily balanced by how convincing his performance is; if you didn't think he really would rob you, if given the opportunity, the line wouldn't have the same panache. —David Drake